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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

270                              THE GAY GENIUS

mountains of weeds and mud that had been thrown up from the
dredged area.   Su struck upon the idea of making use of them to
build the long embankment. The lake shore had been closely built up,
and was covered with rich men's villas. People who wanted to crofcs
over from the south to the north lake shore on foot had to follow the;
winding bank of about two miles. The straight embankment consider-i
ably shortened the distance, besides creating a beautiful promenade, It^
was provided with six arched bridges and nine pavilions.   In Su
Tungpo's own lifetime one of the pavilions served as a "living temple"
to him (shengtse) in which the people placed a portrait of the poet in
order to worship him and commemorate his great work. When the
double-crosser Huiching came into power again, he succeeded in getting
an order for the memorial to be destroyed.

There was also the problem of how to keep the lake for ever free
of the growing weeds.   Su Tungpo conceived the idea of farming ouy
sections of the lake surface along the shore to farmers to grow wal^
caltrop, a kind of water chestnut. The farmers would see to it that their
areas were periodically cleared of weeds. He petitioned the premier's
office to ensure that this revenue would be strictly set aside and devoted
to the upkeep of the embankment and of the lake itself.

Consciously or unconsciously, Su Tungpo had beautified West Lake,
besides increasing its practical advantages. But even this work was
later to come under severe attack by his political enemies as "wasting
government money solely for serving the pleasure of tourists".

Su tried other, more ambitious projects—the development of
canal systems of Kiangsu; a tow-barge project outside the city of
chow—and later he did for the West Lake of Fouyang what he did
for the West Lake of Hangchow. Some of these projects failed oŁ
realisation, but the detailed plans with maps bore witness to his
engineering imagination.

We must mention a great engineering project which he had no
chance to complete because of his recall to the capital again. The
detailed plan is still preserved. There was an island at the entrance
of the Chientang River to the Hangchow Bay which claimed a heavy
toll of shipwrecks and drowned passengers every year. The swift,
broad current of the Chientang ran into the incoming current of sear-
water at the bay and, blocked by this island, turned into a dangerous
whirling cross-tide. This "Floating Island" took its name from the fact
that around it bars appeared and disappeared in a matter of weeks,
and navigators had no way of knowing the proper channel for sailing.
Some of these sand bars were one or two miles long; it was said they
sometimes disappeared completely overnight. It was the most feared
section of the traveller's voyage to Hangchow. People who came along